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Moore v. Forrest City School Dist.

April 26, 2007

CHRISTINE MOORE PLAINTIFF
v.
FORREST CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT, ET AL. DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wm. R. Wilson, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff brought suit against both the Forrest City School District and its Superintendent, Lee Vent, in his official capacity, alleging that she was discriminated against based on her race and retaliated against in violation of Title XII, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983. At the conclusion of a twoday bench trial held in Helena, Arkansas on March 13-14, 2007, the parties were directed to go to a settlement conference, which did not result in a settlement. Based upon the pleadings, evidence adduced, statements of counsel, and applicable law, I find as follows.

I. Background

Plaintiff, an African-American female, began working for the Forrest City School District in 1985 as a kindergarten teacher. She graduated from college in 1974 with a B.S. Degree in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Development, and, in 1983, obtained a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education with an additional thirty hours, and a principal's certificate. Before beginning her career in Forrest City, Plaintiff was a kindergarten teacher in the nearby Palestine School District. She has over thirty years experience.

Plaintiff first applied for an assistant principal position in 1991, but she was not granted an interview. She next applied for an elementary assistant principal position in June 2000 at Central Elementary School. The position was filled by Tammy Mills, a Caucasian female. In response, Plaintiff filed a discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), and filed a grievance with the School District.*fn1

On February 25, 2005, Plaintiff learned of another principal position on the School District's website. When Plaintiff submitted her application for the vacancy in March 2005, she was informed that the deadline for submissions had passed. Plaintiff maintains, however, that the website notification contained no submission deadline. Connie Reed, a Caucasian female, was selected for the position. Because the School District had already hired Ms. Reed's husband as the head coach when it posted the position, Plaintiff alleges that the posting was a ruse. Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC.*fn2 The charge was dismissed, and she received her right to sue letter on August 26, 2005.*fn3

In August 2005, another elementary assistant principal vacancy was filled, but Plaintiff did not apply for that position. She maintains that she was not notified of the posting. Plaintiff argues that Jamie Rougeau, a Caucasian female, was given the position. In support of this, Plaintiff cites an in-service training meeting in which Ms. Rougeau was introduced as the new Assistant Principal. Plaintiff also introduced evidence of a school letterhead that listed Ms. Rougeau as the Assistant Principal. Plaintiff filed another charge with the EEOC,*fn4 the charge was dismissed, and she received the right to sue letter on May 30, 2006.*fn5

The School District maintains that the Assistant Principal position was never filled and that Ms. Rougeau was actually employed as the Dean of Students. Because Ms. Rougeau had not completed her Master's Degree or obtained Administrative Certification, she was not qualified for the Assistant Principal position. The two positions -- Dean of Students and Assistant Principal --differ in salary, qualifications, and duties, with the Assistant Principal position requiring a higher degree of education and more duties but it pays a higher salary.

In August 2006, Plaintiff applied for an assistant elementary principal position, but she was not selected for an interview. At the trial, Dr. Alice Barnes testified that this position was not filled because all of the applicants were employees of the School District, and that if it hired Plaintiff, then there would be no one to fill the elementary class she taught.

The assistant elementary principal position was advertised again in November 2006. Plaintiff and Ennie Hardick, an African-American female, were interviewed. Once again, the School District did not fill the vacancy. The School District based its decision on lower student enrollment, arguing that the position was no longer necessary.

Plaintiff filed suit against the School District and against Mr. Vent, as Superintendent on November 22, 2005.

II. Analysis

Plaintiff asserts that she suffered race discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII, § 1983, and § 1981. The burdens of proof for claims brought under Title VII, § 1983, and § 1981 are identical.*fn6 Therefore, this Order will consider the ...


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